Stemming back to the days of Men are From Mars and Women are From Venus, we have understood that there are some fundamental differences between the way men and women think and feel. This difference could not be more apparent in the way in which we communicate, and in the goals of our communication. By and large women are wired with one set of want and needs in terms of communication, and men are wired with another. The two are quite different, but the awareness of the others needs and goals can completely change interactions and our understanding of one another. This one simple explanation has had a profound impact on the way that many couples interact with one another, and are better able to support the other’s needs. So, what are these simple truth’s I speak of?
Women are emotional and evocative by nature. I do not mean by this that we are emotional messes, incapable of rational thought. I mean that we have different goals when we communication. When we are telling out partner about our day, or about a situation that has happened, we are simply asking them to listen to us. We need to be heard, supported, and understood. We don’t need someone to be a bobble head who agrees with us, but we do need them to hear us out and try to understand where we are coming from. The mere act of being able to get something off our chest, and talk it out, is often all we need to feel better, and that we have processed through a situation.
Men are typically more analytical and pragmatic. By this I mean, they assume if we are telling them something, we are asking them to fix it. When their partner starts to tell them about a person or situation that is frustrating them, their mind immediately starts to come up with questions, possibilities and solutions to a problem that may not actually exist. They are problem and solution oriented, and it does not automatically occur to them that all that may be required of them is listen and be a sounding board for their partner.
This is not just a sweeping generalization. This is experience from years and years of working with couples, and verification time and time again, that this is indeed the dynamic, and the way that each person thinks, how they operate, and what they need. It is like a lightbulb goes off when the other person grows to understand that this is how the other person operates, and this is where they have been coming from all this time. When couples learn to ask for what they need, or ask their partner what they need from them in an interaction, you can literally see the body language relax. I practice this myself, and will preface conversations with, “I just need you to listen to me. I just need you to hear me out. I don’t need you to fix anything, and I don’t need anything else from you.” This makes intentions clear to the other person, and makes them relaxed and more able to give you what you need, because your needs and expectations are transparent.
The same works for men. If what they are hoping for is some practical advice, and they feel like all they get is someone who sits and listens, but offers little feedback or solutions in return, they merely ask for what they need. Tell your partner that you are really struggling with a person or situation, and that you really want to run something by them and get their advice. That there are no one else you trust like them, or feel comfortable talking about this with. Now your partner is more alert, aware, and engaged, as you need them to be. With this newfound understanding of how each of you communicates and operates, as well as what your ultimate communication goals are, you will have more productive, and more pleasant interactions. You will be able to meet each other’s needs and support each other in a way that you never have been able to before.